This blog post is brought to you by Andrea Flinn, manager at Tomlinson’s Circle C. She is trained in pet nutrition, fosters dogs awaiting adoption and has years of experience in the pet food industry.
Recent rains mean two things: fuller lakes, and the nastiest mosquito season Central Texas has seen in a long time.
And while mosquitoes carry diseases that are harmful to humans, their bites can also be deadly for dogs: Mosquitoes are how heartworms are contracted.
Protect your pet, and brush up on these 5 things to know about heartworms:
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease in pets is serious and potentially fatal if left untreated. It is caused by heartworms that live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels, which can cause lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.
Three Keys to Heartworm Prevention
Three tools can play a role in heartworm prevention:
1. Monthly Heartworm Meds: Ask your vet about monthly medications that come in the form of a tasty treat. It is especially important to be vigilant about these meds if your four-legged friend has heart disease.
Make no bones about it: a monthly heartworm preventative is the surest and safest way to protect your pet from these deadly bugs. Stock up on a year’s supply, and set a calendar reminder to give your pet his monthly dose.
Need heartworm meds?
VIP Pet Care will be at select Tomlinson’s stores every month. No appointment necessary–just stop by for a quick check up and stock up on heartworm meds.
2. Nutrition: Nutrition also plays an important role. Healthy pets have stronger immune systems, and are not friendly hosts to parasites like heartworms. Peek at the ingredients in your pet’s food to make sure they’re up to par.
3. “Multi-Purpose Meds:” Recently, new products have been introduced that treat your pet for fleas, ticks and heartworms in a single dose.
However, if your cat or dog has a bad reaction to the flea-treating ingredients of this medication, her body is unable to absorb the other ingredients that prevent heartworms.
Dealing with heartworms can be a dangerous and lengthy process, as dying heartworms pushed out through the heart can cause complications. While natural or dual options sound more appealing, monthly meds like Heartgard are safe and the most effective method of prevention.
Be proactive: set a calendar alert and give your pet a monthly dosage of heartworm medication to prevent this disease.
How Heartworms are Contracted
Heartworms are contracted through the lifecycle of the mosquito:
- Adult female heartworms living in an infected pet produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream.
- When a mosquito bites and takes blood from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms.
- These baby heartworms are then deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound.
There are two ways heartworms can be treated.
With a traditional treatment, your vet may recommend a series of antibiotics, steroids, and/or heartworm preventative as pre-treatment. The infected pet will then be given a series of injections in his back muscles to kill adult heartworms. This treatment usually requires isolation and a boarding stint at the vet’s office for better supervision.
A second form of treatment is called the slow kill method, in which a lower dose of heartworm medication is given. This option is great for older dogs or dogs with an already weakened immune system.
Both forms of treatment should be under strict supervision of a vet.
Milk Thistle is a great way to naturally build up your pet’s immune system during this physically trying time, as it will cleanse the liver. Simply administer for 45 days, then take a 45 day break. (Great for humans, too!)
While receiving treatment for heartworm disease, which can sometimes take six weeks, your pet needs to remain as calm as possible. Rawhides and other long-lasting chews from our Pet Deli or stuffed Kongs are a delicious way to keep your dog relaxed and occupied.
Looking for information on those other pesky pests- fleas and ticks? Read more here.
Be sure to share this newfound knowledge with your fellow pet parents!
Additional source: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics